Posts tagged ‘My Writer’s Journey’

Couples in Harmony: A Contrast in Marriage

What first drew me to the town of Harmony (besides the serenity of its locale) was its population of 18. I wondered how in a state like California could there still be a town with such a fictionally small number of residents. When I began building the cast of characters that lived in Life in Harmony, I surrounded the central couple with other couples in various stages of marriage. I wanted Kate and Michael to see examples of how each marriage is different. Here’s a rundown of the other couples of Harmony and the role they play in the story.

Beck and Lucy

Beck and Lucy are the mature couple who run the Acadia Inn (Acadia is derived from the Greek word for idyllic place/harmony with nature). They are an example what love looks like after years of marriage. They certainly argue but at the heart of their relationship is love. From Beck’s calling Lucy “a pretty little thing” as she is walking Established 1973away to his speech at the dinner party where he tells everyone that if his wife (and daughter) believes in miracles that’s all he needs. He loves her so much that her beliefs surpass his own. Beck and Lucy are also an example of a happy life after the loss of a child. In addition, they help keep things light by providing some comic relief with those private details of married life (usually geared around toilets).

Sunny and Holla

Our hippie couple reminds us the book is set in California where people freely live by their own set of rules. I wanted their kumbaya, melting-pot religious philosophy to counter what Ruth was selling. Make no mistake they are selling their lifestyle. They seem a “sunny” and happy couple whose pick-and-choose philosophy appears to work for them (on the surface).

I encourage you to look at the journey Holla is on in the book. It is a subtle story. She is quick to caution Kate about Ruth’s God but motherhood is changing her. She wants different things now that she has her son. What seemed like her path before, may not be working for her. She has doubts about her beliefs and wants there to be more to life than what Sunny is selling. She also wants reassurances that her deceased father’s life did not just end. Her story is a work in progress that comes to an understated conclusion at the end of the book. Father Tom leads those gathered in prayer and the chapter ends with As Father Tom prayed, Raye bowed her head and without thinking so did Holla.

Stan and Tess

The last couple in Harmony is one that is only together in one of the first chapters. Stan and Tess are the couple having dinner in Juanita’s that first night Kate and Michael visit Harmony. They are a punk rock couple who seem out-of-place in the peaceful setting. They argue. It is ugly. Tess walks out and we never see her again in the book.

The Harmony Chapel mentioned in the book. It sits behind the Creamery Building.

The Harmony Chapel mentioned in the book. It sits behind the Creamery Building.

Stan and Tess remind Kate of what she sees in her own faulty marriage. It was two chapters before where we see Kate and Michael fight in much the same way. Kate herself wonders if staying married is the right choice for her. Stan and Tess’s breakup signifies that all is not peaceful in Harmony. There is reality and choices to be made. Kate  wonders if like Tess she will walk out.I can tell you there is certainly more to the Stan and Tess story but the rest of it was left out of this book.

I can tell you there is certainly more to the Stan and Tess story but the rest of it was left out of this book. Life in Harmony is about Kate and Michael. It was an editorial decision that details in Stan and Tess’s story was left out entirely. I know it leaves unanswered questions in their journey and I apologize. Perhaps that is a story for another book

With these three couples, we see a marriage that works in the long run, one that ends abruptly and one that seems alright on the surface but may be beginning to crack. They are examples for us to compare the main characters’ relationship to and hopefully add richness to the story.

Small disclaimer: The residents in the novel, Life in Harmony, are all fictional characters and are not likenesses of the actual residents of Harmony. While some may share trades and locations as those in the real town of Harmony, they are works of fiction. I know the book’s website, harmonynovel.com, does a fantastic job of blurring the lines of reality and fiction but the book is and always has been a work of fiction.


 

LIH Cover 2015

Living in the smallest of towns with an array of hippies, farmers and artists, who are as different as they are close, can be taxing enough without the realization that some of Harmony’s residents may not be what they appear. When Michael and Kate uproot their lives in LA after a miscarriage and move to Harmony, CA (Population 18), they had no idea they’d be sharing their home with a spiritual apparition of a four-year-old girl named Ruby. “Life in Harmony” entertains the thought that the trials we face happen for a reason, and sometimes it takes supernatural intervention for us to understand ourselves, our relationships and the world around us.

Life in Harmony is available now from Pangloss Sea. Click one of the links below to purchase the book today!

Amazon Print Edition

Amazon Digital Edition


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Being In-Spirit…Being Inspired

Dr. Wayne Dyer said that inspiration comes when we move back in-spirit with a power greater than ourselves. When we let our EGO dictate our life, we Edge God Out and fall out of being in-spirit. Being in-spirit is a significant theme of my novel, Life in Harmony. The theme plays out in the central couple’s return to a more natural setting (God is represented in nature). The theme of being in-spirit is also represented as Kate opens up her acceptance of being one with a heavenly spirit.

When I first began developing the story, it was going to be nothing more than a ghost story but then inspiration took hold of the story and it went further down a path of spirituality than I had originally intended.

I had always been drawn to stories that included God’s use of the supernatural to make his point. The bible is full of God’s direct intervention in the lives of common people. It was an angel that visited both Mary and Joseph separately and told of the baby she was to bear. When you look at the story of Christ’s birth alone, it is filled will God’s divining hand in ensuring things happened as intended. From the use of angels to the wise men, God guided the course of Mary and Joseph’s life in the opening of the gospel story.

Boo RadleyTo Kill A Mockingbird, Shoeless Joe Jackson/Field of Dreams and the movie Grand Canyon are favorites of mine because they dance very close to a divine force watching over us, guiding us, toward a greater goal. Being in-spirit comes in many forms in these titles and it reminds us that God is at work and uses whatever means possible to ensure his “plot” is followed. Whether it’s a stranger on the street or homeless man in Grand Canyon, the angelic Boo Radley in Mockingbird or J.D. Salinger in Shoeless Joe Jackson (character was renamed in Field of Dreams), we are reminded that God works out the details of inspiration in whatever manner necessary.

In Life in Harmony, our main characters, Kate and Michael, are at a crossroads and inspiration gathers like a rolling stone in the beginning of the book. A hand rubbing a back inspires an agreement for a trip. The open road with seemingly endless possibilities leads to a turn off that changes the course of events (pay attention to how the roads in the book come to dead ends and how that plays a part in the journey).

Inspiration comes from our willingness to be joined with a greater power than ourselves. My inspiration to this philosophy came from Dr. Dyer and in my appreciation for use of supernatural elements in the books and movies I mentioned above. Life in Harmony shows what life out of inspiration (not being in-spirit) and in spirit is like.

The term supernatural these days takes on a non-spiritual element and is more aligned with scary elements related commonly to ghosts (another word with more negative connotations than it should have…will save my thoughts on that for later). Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines supernatural as being unable to be explained by science or the laws of nature; relating to… a God.

Being inspired literally means being aroused or imbued with the spirit to do something, by supernatural or divine influence. Life in Harmony is a story inspired by and about being in-spirit with something greater than ourselves.LIH Cover 2015

If you haven’t picked up my novel, Life in Harmony, yet please buy it today (click here for more info).  If you have read it, let me know what you thought. I hope you find it inspiring. Dyer Book

An additional resource for inspiration is the Dr. Wayne Dyer book Inspiration: Your Ultimate Call. I was saddened by his death earlier this year as his books and lectures changed my focus in life. I will always be grateful for his inspiring me to get back to what my Spirit wanted from me – to write.

 

Buy the Book!

Today is the day! My novel, Life in Harmony, is finally available! You can order a copy by clicking one of these links:

For those of you not familiar with the book’s story, the book is one woman’s spiritual journey as she copes with loss in her life. She is at a point in her life where she has to cope with the death of her mother and a miscarriage at the same time. On top of that she is debating whether staying with her husband is the best choice for her. In short, she is lost.LIH Cover 2015

Too many people are often unsure about the direction of their life and can’t seem to find what matters. In our modern age, religion has less of a focus for too many. Too often parents decide that God and religion aren’t important. Some even go so far to say they will let their children decide on religion when they are old enough to do so. For most, religion has become a politicized and complicated subject. Often our churches don’t make it any easier on those non-practicing.

An individual relation with God is isn’t really  as complicated as religion makes it. In fact, it is what’s missing from too many lives. When you don’t believe in a Creator/God who has a masterful plan, you are left without hope. Without hope there is a void in your life that too often gets filled with vices that thinly veil that void but for only short time.

Life in Harmony tells Kate’s special story. Sometimes God uses supernatural intervention to bring his lost sheep back to the flock.  This book takes a very soft approach toward bringing people closer to God without hitting them over the head with it. It is my hope that the book’s non-threatening approach to God through spirituality will open some hearts toward having God in their life and how that connection brings a new awareness to what life is really all about.

When life seems to be handing you nothing but loss, take the most unexpected turn to “Life in Harmony.” 

I hope you will do me the honor of buying Life in Harmony today. I think you will find it a good story with a great message. Perhaps you could buy a copy for a friend who is missing out on having God in their life.

I plan on spending the next 10 weeks doing a Blog Blitz here covering themes and ideas presented in the book. Subscribe at the top right to stay informed as I share my insight from the book.

The Albatross Necktie

Close-up of Claucasian mid-adult man straightening necktie.I know it’s been two years and just when you think I’ve given it all up… I’m back!

The truth is this has been a long time in coming. Raising a family leads to making decisions that you insist you would never have to make, but do because what you want rides secondary to what responsibility holds. All during the past two years, I have had the publication of “Life in Harmony” hanging around my neck like an albatross necktie. I know that term is incredibly negative and in reality it’s not entirely the way it sounds. Has it been choking me with reminders of what should be? Absolutely! Sometimes we need those gnawing reminders to eat at us so we don’t forget about what lies deep inside us still yearning to get out.

Certainly, the daily grind of life and responsibility can weigh us down. It detracts you from affording the mental capacity of personal goals. Don’t get me wrong. I love my children and wouldn’t change my life with them for anything. No one tells you in person or in any parenting books the level of sacrifices you will make to show your children love. With them as my priority, most of my writing efforts in the last two years have been dedicated what has become known in our house as the annual “Summer Binders” (Books that guide my boys through their summer months in productive ways …more on that at another date).

The truth is I wouldn’t allow myself to work on anything else because of that albatross I wore as a reminder of something left unfinished. I knew what I needed to do to get “Life in Harmony” to publication but didn’t have the time or mental capacity to see it through except on vacations from the Monday-Friday, bill-paying job. And while sparks of creativity would tempt me into writing something else, I refused out of guilt. I needed to see this through to the end first. So I wore “Life in Harmony” around my neck not doing much else with writing because if there was time to write, it should be used to get the book into print.

So slowly but surely I built the bridge to this very personal goal one stone at a time. Finally, the bridge looks LIH Cover 2015complete and the necktie is coming off. “Life in Harmony” is finally ready for its close-up.

What has emerged is a good story that I hope others will enjoy. In working with my new incarnation through Pangloss Sea Books, “Life in Harmony” will hopefully be a new start for a new way of publishing and marketing books. The book will enjoy a soft release this holiday season. A soft release is a slow release where we can hopefully build an audience for an eventual larger release sometime next year.

For the few of you who are reading this I thank you. You can expect more consistent posts in the next few weeks. That necktie is now cast off and I am ready for what comes next. Look for this blog to take a strong turn toward positive story-telling with a new emphasis on “Stories that Inspire!”

Inspirational Quotes from My Book List

In preparing my aesthetic statement for my master thesis, I had to pull together the works of literature (and elsewhere) that have inspired me to be the writer I am becoming. In pulling together a book list and some quotes, I came up with more than I needed. Here are some quotes from books I just loved and had to share. So indulge me…

Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book, Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling, has had a profound effect on me in the last six years. Dyer talks at length about how getting inspired means being in-Spirit with your Source. Here are a couple of great quotes that didn’t make it into my edited essay.

There’s a voice in the universe entreating us to remember our purpose, our reason for being here now in this world of impermanence. The voice whispers, shouts, and sings to us that this experience – of being in form in space and time – has meaning. That voice belongs to inspiration, which is within each and every one of us.

Before merging into form, we were a part of God, with all the inherent qualities of a Creator who sends forth abundance, creativity, love, peace, joy, and well-being.

The movie and screenplay for Stranger than Fiction is for me a work of art. In the screenwriter, Zach Helm uses vocabulary and words in a vastly creative outlet. On top of that, is this strange story of a writer who can’t find her inspiration and an IRS agent who can’t find his. Here are some of the greats from the screenplay:

Harold Crick: I brought you flours. 
Ana Pascal: [seeing the sweetness of the gesture, then realizing he’s carried 10 bags of flours] Um… and you carried them all the way here?
Harold Crick: Miss Pascal, I’ve been odd, and I, I know I’ve been odd, and… I want you.
Ana Pascal: What?
Harold Crick: There are many reasons, there are so many influences in my life, that are telling me, at times, quite literally, that I should come here and bring you these, but I’m doing this because I want you. 

*****

Kay Eiffel: Because it’s a book about a man who doesn’t know he’s about to die. And then dies. But if a man does know he’s about to die and dies anyway. Dies- dies willingly, knowing that he could stop it, then- I mean, isn’t that the type of man who you want to keep alive? 

*****

Kay Eiffel: As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be ok. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren’t any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And, so it was, a wristwatch saved Harold Crick. 

Nick Hornby’s About a Boy follows much of the same themes as Stranger than Fiction. Hornby uses humor in tragic tales much the way a later author on this list does. About a Boy remains my favorite Hornby book. Here are a couple of highlights from the book:

Loving people, and allowing yourself to be loved, was only worth the risk if the odds were in your favor, but they quite clearly weren’t. There were about seventy-nine squillion people in the world, and if you were very lucky, you would end up being loved by fifteen or twenty of them. So how smart did you have to be to work out that it just wasn’t worth the risk?

No man is an island…

But all three of them had to lose things in order to gain other things. Will had lost his shell and his cool and his distance, and he felt scared and vulnerable, but he got to be with Rachel; and Fiona had lost a big chunk of Marcus, and she got to stay away from the casualty ward; and Marcus had lost himself, and got to walk home from school with his shoes on.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It really stayed with me long after reading it (Click here to read more about my opinion of the book).  While you have to read it to really appreciate its effect, here are some of the best quotes:

A lost corner. That’s what she called it, and that was what started it. Because at Hailsham, we had our own “Lost Corner” up on the third floor, where the lost property was kept; if you lost or found anything, that’s where you went. Someone – I can’t remember who it was – claimed after the lesson that what Miss Emily had said was that Norfolk was England’s “lost corner,” where all the lost property found in the country ended up. Somehow this idea caught on and soon had become accepted fact virtually throughout our entire year.

I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. That’s how it is with us. It’s a shame, Kath, because we’ve loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.

When we lost something precious, and we’d looked and looked and still couldn’t find it, then we didn’t have to be completely heartbroken. We still had that last bit of comfort, thinking one day, when we grow up, and we were free to travel around the country, we would always go and find it in Norfolk…And that’s why years and years later, that day Tommy and I found another copy of that lost tape of mine in a town on the Norfolk coast, we didn’t just think it pretty funny; we both felt deep down some tug, some old wish to believe again in something that was once close to our hearts. 

Another one of my favorites is also by Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

What is the point of worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment. 

As I say, I have never in all these years thought of the matter in quite this way; but then it is perhaps in the nature of coming away on a trip such as this that one is prompted towards such surprising new perspectives on topics one imagined one had long ago thought thoroughly.

He chose a certain path in life, it proved to be a misguided one, but there, he chose it, he can say that at least. As for myself, I cannot even claim that. You see, I trusted. I trusted in his lorship’s wisdom. All those years I served him, I trusted I was doing something worthwhile. I can’t even say I made my own mistakes. Really – one has to ask oneself – what dignity is there in that?

Anne Tyler has been a long-time favorite. My favorite of hers remains The Accidental Tourist. Like Hornby,Tyler takes quirky characters in the midst of tragedy and adds that small dash of humor and hope. Two of my favorite moments in the book involveMacon’s willingness to accept the new people in his life. In the end, he leaves behind his old life and self for Muriel and much earlier in the book he accepts her son, Alexander, after seeing him being bullied on the walk home from school. The book boils down to this one great quote:

I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s not just how much you love someone. Maybe what matters is who you are when you’re with them. 

Lastly, we come to Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s opus to the life and the sea, Gift from the Sea. Second only to the bible for me, this book shapes and reshapes my view of self, the world and country. It is a great collection. Here is a limited (I really tried) collection of treasures from this book:

I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable. 

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity…The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides. 

This is what one thirsts for, I realize, after the smallness of the day, of work, of details, of intimacy – even of communication, one thirsts for the magnitude and universality of a night full of stars, pouring into one like a fresh tide. 

This last one by Lindbergh opens Life in Harmony.

Simplicity of living, as much as possible, to retain a true awareness of life. Balance of physical, intellectual, and spiritual life. Work without pressure. Space for significance and beauty. Time for solitude and sharing. Closeness to nature to strengthen understanding and faith in the intermittency of life: life of the spirit, creative life, and the life of human relationships.

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